Overcome Gender Bias and Become the Leader You Want to Be

The simple fact is that women and men are perceived differently from the day they walk in the door for that very first interview to the day they retire. And that difference in perception is rooted in the gender bias we, as women, work every day to overcome.

We’re told good leaders are assertive, decisive, and bold. When men display these qualities, they’re great leaders. When women display these same qualities, they risk being perceived as “too rough.” Often, for women to progress and be socially accepted in their careers, they’re told they need to be nicer, more pleasant, softer—not too abrasive or in your face. That double standard is why we see so few female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. However, great female leaders are where they are because they’ve figured out how to overcome that barrier.

I’ve learned the most effective way to do this is set bold goals and deliver. Drive results that no one can dispute. Let your achievements speak for themselves. I’ve also learned to strike the right balance and adapt my style to what my team needs and what the situation requires. Good leaders, regardless of gender, lead with balance and empathy to make an even greater impact on their teams, companies, and communities.

But in this kind of environment, it’s incredibly important that there’s universal allyship in the workplace, and that we, as women, lead from the front by supporting other women. All of us are facing the same challenges every day, and we need to show up for each other along the way. For me, personally, this means finding ways to support our Women’s Associate Resource Groups and participating in a mentor circle for young women. As female leaders, we need to be a resource others can go to when they need us—just by having a conversation about gender bias, we’re taking a step toward overcoming it. We need to be role models, and show smart, sharp, young women that it is possible to overcome something as pervasive as gender bias in the workplace. Because, after all, seeing is believing. If they see enough of us do it, I hope they’ll believe they can do it too.